KEY POINTS

  • Two typhoons and irresponsible development have left Vietnam shaken by lethal flooding, killing 114 thus far
  • Another storm is scheduled to make landfall Sunday, hitting hardest the places already struck by the last two
  • 178,000 homes are currently underwater

Vietnam has been battered again and again by storms and heavy flooding this year.

Now, a third major storm is approaching the coastline when the country in southeast Asia hasn’t even finished recovering from the second. Floods and landslides have claimed 114 lives thus far recently.

Vietnam has been hit by severe flooding and landslides Vietnam has been hit by severe flooding and landslides Photo: Vietnam News Agency / STR

Scientists attributed the unusually lethal wet season there to climate change and irresponsible development. Pamela McElwee, a professor at Rutgers University who studies Vietnam’s environment, told the New York Times that hydroelectric dams and improperly built mountain roads had weakened the countries firmament. 

“The earth is just soaked with water and has nowhere to go,” she said. 

A single landslide at a military base killed at least 20 soldiers, the nation’s largest peacetime military casualty incident. Civilian populations living in mountain valleys have been particularly imperiled, as they are both at higher risk and less prepared than people living on the plains. 

A woman pushes her scooter along a flooded road in Quang Dien district in central Vietnam's Hue province A woman pushes her scooter along a flooded road in Quang Dien district in central Vietnam's Hue province Photo: AFP / MANAN VATSYAYANA

One particular tragedy captured national attention. Nguyen Dac Minh was accompanying his pregnant wife, Hoang Thi Phuong, to the hospital when their baby clothes blew out of the small boat ferrying them across a river. Minh waded through the shallow water to get them when a sudden surge capsized the boat and pulled his wife underwater.

Her body was found 300 feet downstream. 

Minh’s story attracted sympathy and donations from throughout a country still tallying the dead. Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh characterized the season as “a difficult time with huge losses due to natural disasters.”

Landmarks and coastal streets are flooded, with U.N. numbers indicated 178,000 homes submerged. Even as rescuers search and people return, Typhoon Saudel is gathering strength in the South China sea. It’s expected to make landfall on Sunday, pummeling the areas already hit hardest with still more punishing rain and floods. 

Vietnam isn’t alone. Countries throughout Asia are facing unprecedented and fatal flooding, including parts of China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal.